May 1 2013
Rickie Fowler and 14-year-old Reyhan Griffin were pro-am partners on Wednesday. (Courtesy: The First Tee)
Click here to watch Reyhan's winning entry.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rickie Fowler was once Reyhan Griffin. And not that long ago, either.
Fowler used to look up to golfers like Tiger Woods and world motocross champ Jeremy McGrath when he was a kid growing up in southern California. But a dirt bike accident when Fowler was 14, the same age Reyhan is now, prompted him to shift his focus to golf.
Fowler is a decade removed from that life-changer and he's one of the most popular golfers on the PGA TOUR -- particularly with younger fans like Reyhan. His edge style and colorful clothes are a draw everywhere he goes, and his breakthrough win at the Wells Fargo Championship last year was an extremely popular one.
Mindful of that synergy, Wells Fargo decided to reach out to teenage participants of The First Tee through its "Succeeding Together" video essay contest. Reyhan's entry was picked over 50 submissions and he is playing with Fowler in today's pro-am at Quail Hollow.
"I'm looking forward to it more than he is," Fowler said. "It's going to be a fun day. I love being able to hang out with the younger generation whether it's when I'm home in California or home in Jupiter, on the road, spending time, signing autographs for younger fans, to getting to play 18 holes today with Reyhan.
"I know when I was younger I liked guys that I looked up to whether it was in golf or action sports, any time I got to spend with them whether it was just five minutes with them saying hi, it was pretty special. ... But I think it will be just as much fun for me as it will be for Reyhan."
Griffin has been a member of the The First Tee of San Francisco since 2006. The eighth-grader, who has a 4.0 GPA, usually takes two backpacks with him to school -- one with his school supplies and another that holds golf magazines and instructional manuals. He practices golf six days a week and is a member of The First Tee's "Future Foursome" program -- citing integrity and golf as his favorite core values.
Reyhan and the other three prize winners will be guests of Wells Fargo at the tournament this week.